Valedictorian Megan Mascarenhas’ Commencement Speech

On Sunday, May 11, Valedictorian Megan Mascarenhas ’14 challenged her classmates to make a positive impact on the world.

(Video by Jennifer DeWitt)

Good morning President Duncan, Members of the Board of Trustees, Provost Bresnahan, Dean Smither, Dean Wellman, members of the faculty, fellow graduates, and families I am honored to stand before you today as one of the valedictorians to represent the Class of 2014.

Dear fellow graduates, we are a multitalented, multifaceted group of students. Yet we hold one thing in common: We are all seated here today because of the support of our incredible families and the dedication of our Rollins faculty and staff.

(Photo by Scott Cook) (Photo by Scott Cook) When I consider my Rollins journey, gratitude is the one sentiment that stands above all others.

When the stress of research projects, finals, and performances utterly overwhelmed me, my parents encouraged me to keep things in perspective and persevere. My music professors challenged me to excel beyond my own expectations and explore unfamiliar spheres. The education faculty inspired me to make a positive impact as a teacher. My German professors afforded me the opportunity to set foot on German soil and experience firsthand the German culture. Each of my professors aided me in carving out a purposeful plan—one that combined my passions and talents.

My fellow graduates, I know each of you has encountered professors at Rollins who did the same for you, professors who went above their call of duty to invest so generously in our education. I would like for us to thank the Rollins faculty for their guidance, support, and encouragement. Thank you for teaching us lessons that extend beyond the classroom and for instilling in us a passion for lifelong learning.

Perhaps the most important thing I learned this year is that there are lessons to be learned from every challenge we face. I had ambitious plans for my senior year. However, as my struggle with Lyme disease intensified, I discovered that my body would not cooperate with my will. I realized that my dreams and plans will always be subject to God’s perfect will for my life, and His grace is sufficient to carry me through. Once I surrendered all my plans, I dedicated every last bit of my time and strength to my student teaching internship and resolved to make a positive impact on the lives of my middle school students.

Through this experience, I learned that there is no higher calling than to make a difference in the lives of others. I challenge you to invest in others, as our Rollins professors have invested in us. In every walk of life, you will encounter people whom you may never meet again. Seize the moment to make an impact; let every encounter be purposeful and meaningful.

Class of 2014, we have a bright future waiting for us. As you embark on this journey, be prepared to embrace the unexpected and face adversity with determination and resiliency. Be grateful for the opportunities you have had, and do not dwell too long on the opportunities missed.

Finally, I leave you with the words of Mark Twain: Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Thank you Rollins, and congratulations Class of 2014.